When Goldy asked if I wanted to help him fill an hour of his radio show Saturday night, I knew I had a good excuse to get back on the saddle (of my bike). Even if that saddle was causing some, um, soreness.
Getting out of Belltown was easy enough, except for the Torchlight Parade. I had to wait to cross, just like the Metro buses who were behind me. When I got the “all clear,” it was a mad dash to get through the intersection before the buses edged me out.
I have a feeling that Dexter Ave N is a bicyclist’s best friend. It was very a convenient route to get to South Lake Union. Which reminds me…
Be VERY careful around construction. (But you already knew that, right?) The streetcar construction made things dicey through Valley Street, and I chickened-out a bit and walked my bike across the crosswalk at Fairview. Better safe than… dead.
The stretch from Hooters up the hill to the studio was a piece of cake. I even had a chance to figure out the whole “shifting” thing. It’s all about gear ratios, right?
Finally, some questions:
For riding at night, or a less-than-optimal lighting conditions, what’s a good strategy for making sure I’m visible to idiot drivers? Are some lights better than others?
Also, while I love love LOVE my Kryptonite U-Lock, the thingy that attaches to my bike that holds my bike lock… it keeps failing me. I tried to secure it per the installation instructions, but it still moves around a bit on me when the U-Lock is attached to it. I tightened it so much that the plastic split. I’m going to have to get another one from those guys. (This’ll be the second one I’ve had to get sent to me special delivery. Those guys at Kryptonite are very understanding.) Anybody else have this problem?
Get out and ride spews:
Depending how serious you are about night riding, anything from buying a HID light to wearing reflective mesh jackets like road crews wear. Of course, some people will swear by red flashing tail lights, but don’t! Cops don’t have flashing red lights on the rear of their light bar since drunks are attracted to them.
I carry my lock in a backpack/.
I’m not so sure about that red light thing. Sounds like urban legend to me.
Depending on where you’re riding you may not need the uber bright light. HIDs are way spendy. If your need is to be seen more than seeing you can get by with an LED headlight. Some can be made to flash which is nice. I also have a rear red flasher. I don’t usually ride after dark but have the means in case I get caught out late. I am more worried about being seen at dusk.
My front: http://www.rei.com/product/745533
My rear: http://www.rei.com/product/710481
Shop around on the web. You can often do better on price.
I am not an urban bike traveller and I seldom ride on streets. I am fitted out accordingly. If I get hit by a drunk it will likely be a bear that’s raided a kegger..
Gordon Wickward spews:
First rule, is all your attempts at visability notwithstanding always figure that they _STILL_ don’t see you.
For lights, lights that flash or strobe are good for getting attention, lights that are solid are better for helping others judge where you are. I have one flash and one solid at both ends (don’t forget spare batteries too). I have seen wheel reflectors that have lights and make for good attention getting, but I have not found them for sale yet.
For clothing, always wear bright colors (see rule 1 though) and at night add in some thing that is reflective, you can buy reflective hazzard triagles or vests or get shirts that have relective qualities. You can also tape up your bike with reflective tape, it works nicely too.
Oh, and about the stupid clip kryptonite gives you to attach your lock? The best thing to do is give it a heave. It is a real P.O.S. Even installed and used correctly it will not keep your lock in – never trust a lock clip when your bike is on a bus unless you feel the need to support the lock industry with regular purchases. Put the lock in your backpack, panier or a handy way I have seen is to but the lock it to the side of your rack. Most of them have a slot on the side of the top, and you put the locking part over the slot, push the two ends of the U up from underneath (while keeping the bottom of the U on the outside of the rack support) and lock it together.
Have a nice ride.
Get out and ride spews:
– @2drool says:
– I’m not so sure about that red light thing. Sounds like urban legend to me.
Next time you see a police/highway patrol car on the side of the road, tell me if you see red lights flashing in the back. Simple way to prove it.
Thanks for all ya’lls help.
Explain this to me again:
Mark Centz spews:
When I went back to driving after having been a bikie for years, I was shocked to realize just how correct the “ride as if you’re invisible” advice is, per Gordon W. I think Get Out and Ride might want to cite a study or something, because I think the only reason the police use the blue flashing lights is because the fire dept uses the red ones. Vests and all other reflective materials are pretty blah compared to the strobes. The best value is a reflector on the pedals, those puppies moving up and down really bring the rider out from the background.
Cats Eye makes quality lights. I can break anything and my Cats Eye lights have been working fine for quite some time now. I have this set.
The headlight is bright enough to light up the couple of short dark spots on my ride home, but just barely.
Make sure your headlight stays put while you’re riding. Dinking with stuff on your bike while riding can have side effects like this:
The Cat eye lights stay put.
I use two tail lights on my bike, one on the seat post and one about half way up the seat stay that doesn’t have my derailleur cable on it. I have a third light that I clip on to what ever bag or pack I have. Nobody will ever accuse me of waging a war on Christmas!
I’ve had bad luck with with Sigma Sport stuff, but then I’ve never understood the Germans.
Enoch Root spews:
Whether or not they attract drunks, red tail lights are required by law. I have two that clip on my backpack or clothing that blink at different rates, and a third that’s steady, that clips on the rack. They were cheap… If one falls off or gets stolen, I still have two others. I need better lighting for forward; I think a yellow blinkie and homebrewing a mini-mag light frame mount might do the trick.
You will not be seen at night. That’s the best assumption.
Gordon Wickward spews:
Clarification on how to hang a U lock from your bike rack. It is ridiculously easy to do, not so easy to describe. Most racks have rails around the outside (the frame) that you hook your paniers over, and then there is space and then usually a flat piece to block wheel spray. Separate the lock bar and the U of the U lock, and holding the U (with the loop down towards the derailuer) against the post that goes from the frame of the rack to the frame of the bike, push the top ends of the U into the space between the rails and the flat piece. Then insert them in to the lock bar and lock it. It will then ride with the locking bar sitting securely on top of the slot and resting against the outside of the post. It should ride very securly there, but you will not be able to ride with a panier on that side but if you have a panier, just put the lock in it. Hope this helps.
I figured it out, thanks!
But, it looks like it might rattle around a bit. The fit, while not loose, isn’t exactly snug. Should it be snug, or is it going to rattle no matter what? It might start to bug me when I’m out there riding. Either way, I think I might be able to rig it so it’s a bit tighter.
In any case, this will work better than the Kryptonite clip that came with the lock.
#4 Get out and ride,
Uhh, cops have differnet colored lights to differentiate them from other vehicles. Been that way for years.
Look at other vehicles (fire, ambulance, tow truck) and you’ll see plenty of red flashing lights.
I’d like to see a study on the flshing red light thing. The only mention I see of it is on bicycle BBs and blogs.
I suspect a really impaired person can get fixated on just about anything and hit it. In combat flying it’s called target fixation. You spend too much time fixated on the target and not enough brain power on everything else and you actually can crash into the target. Sound familiar?
Bill Cruchon spews:
Will, if you don’t mind some advice from a conservative guy that’s ridden motorcycles and bicycles for years, here goes: Ride as if you’re invisible is always good advice. Most bike lights are pretty ineffective and will only serve to keep you from getting a ticket. Never assume the lights make you more visible. I’ve always tried to avoid riding on main arterials. There’s often a residential street that is reasonably parallel and fairly traffic free. You just have to be a little creative and it’s amazing how much more pleasant your ride can be.